The Rx We Need to Stop Elise Stefanik From Being NY’s Governor

And, how to save the New York midterm elections for Democrats


The specter of Donald Trump running for president of the United States in 2024 is a frightening prospect all by itself. But, in the meantime, the possibility of losing the Senate and/or the House of Representatives next year presents an even deeper danger.

For New Yorkers, it’s pretty safe to assume that our Washington representatives will be safe, but what’s really necessary is to flip a seat or two to help make up for any losses in other states due to gerrymandering or lack of a viable candidate or just plain voter ignorance.

New York’s Attorney General Tish James with Cait Augustyn, Candidate for Cayuga County Legislature in District 1 . Ms. James made an impromptu stop at Auburn, NY’s statue of Harriett Tubman and met with several supporters.

It’s a frightening thought that everything from women’s rights, worker protections and our very health might come under the direction of certifiable morons and that the inmates will actually be running the asylum.

It’s the 2020’s version of the 1950’s Red Scare that got us all building fallout shelters and hiding under our desks at school. Only this time the “Red” is the GOP, or rather a mutated version of the party of Lincoln … Republicans gone wild.

In New York State, I see a serious challenge from the right in the form of Elise Stefanik, the #3 hitman in the House who has been salivating over Cuomo’s demise and Upstater Kathy Hochul’s ascension like a wolf at a sheep fest. She’s the only real hope Republicans have of occupying the Governor’s Mansion.

It’s keeping me up at night.

I had a chance meeting with the one part of the cure for my insomnia I have overlooked.

Tish James the Cuomo Giant Killer

New York’s Attorney General is just what the Doctor ordered. And, it’s a prescription for success that may just ward off any challenge by Ms. Stefanik.

Not only did the popular Ms. James do the work to get Cuomo to resign, she also holds the key to prosecuting Trump and bringing him to his knees begging for forgiveness for the wrongs he’s done.

While other people talk, she actually takes action and makes it happen.

I was impressed shortly after she took office as NY’s AG, and my admiration has only grown as time’s gone by. She’s smart, she’s savvy. She’s got the energy, has won statewide and has what it takes to not only lead Democrats to victory, but to help turn out the vote to unseat a Republican or two in the process.

Tish James is the medicine we need in 2022.

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If We Want to Defeat Republicans, Stop Trying to Defeat Republicans

Fighting nonsense with nonsense doesn’t work

There are people who every day put out the same basic article: ”Republicans bad.” Oh, they toss invective at different Republicans about different things, but the message is the same shallow, tinny echo: ”Republicans bad.”

That Republicans are bad will get no argument from me, but that’s the point. The message ”Republicans bad” will land either in front of people who already agree, or who don’t care. Republicans won’t bother listening to your ”Republicans bad” screed. And who can blame them?

The point is that repeating ”Republicans bad” accomplishes nothing. It won’t change a single mind or a single vote. It won’t do a thing to make the world a better place. Might make you feel better. Might make you a few pennies from people reading you spout what they already believe. But no matter how many times you repeat ”Republicans bad,” it will never defeat Republicans.


Think About What You’re Doing

Think for a minute why you think Republicans are bad. I bet you anything that it’s because of what Republicans are against. I’ll let you fill in the blanks on that one, because we all know the people and things that Republicans are against. What do you think Republicans are for? I bet you that anything you or Republicans come up with in answer to that is easily rephrased into a statement of opposition to something. Go ahead, it’s an enlightening exercise.

Okay, now turn your attention to what you think and what you write. What are you for? Are you really for something, or are your statements easily rephrased into a statement of opposition to something? If you can’t find anything that you write that isn’t an anti-something polemic, then you accomplish nothing. Even you feeling better from venting your dislikes is a fleeting and empty feeling.

If you can find some things that you are for, and I sincerely hope you have some, then write positive things about what you are for. And if you are for something, you don’t need, not even one little bit, to say “Republicans bad.”


Catching Flies

It’s probably an old-fashioned saying, but when I was young I was taught that “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Quaint, but true. If you want to sell a product to someone, you will have more success extolling the positives of your product than being negative.

The only way to defeat Republicans is to offer a better alternative for people to support. If you think you have a better alternative, then offer it. No matter how witty you think are your put-downs of the Republicans, you are just piling more negativity onto the already toxic swamp of politics. All the “Republicans bad” jibes you can think up won’t change a single vote. You only makes things worse.

Yes, I know, you can also use fear and loathing to motivate people. That’s what you’re trying to do with your “Republicans bad” routine: defeat Republicans by cultivating fear and loathing of them. I get that.

And yes, I hear some of you going “but Republicans do it.” Congratulations, you are as bad as Republicans. Is that really something to be proud of? Republicans have already cornered the market on “[blank] are bad.” Joining them in that nonsense won’t defeat them.


Stand For Something or You Stand For Nothing

You will never ever, defeat Republicans as long as you are trying to defeat them. As long as you keep talking about Republicans, you are giving everyone the impression that you have nothing to offer except negativity, that you have no ideas except who you dislike. You are not providing an alternative to Republicans.

Do you want to make the world a better place or are you content with your pennies a day serving diatribe to the already converted? Again, are you for something? Anything? Are you an alternative to hate and division?

If you stand for something, then write about what you are for. Tell people why you are for it. Explain to people why what you support is a good thing. THAT will convince people to support you. “Republicans bad” never will.


Talk issues. Talk policies. Offer solutions.

The Right Wants to Cancel the Truth

When conservatives attack Critical Race Theory — or any meaningful discussion of systemic racism in American history — they insist they do so only because such material ignores the progress made since the nation’s founding and leads students to think badly about America.

But actually, the right wants to paper over historical injustices — to cancel the truth — so as to keep students from asking difficult questions about inequality in the present.

But actually, the right wants to paper over historical injustices — l to cancel the truth — so as to keep students from asking difficult questions about inequality in the present.

They fear that if students realize how central racism has been to the country’s development, they may connect the dots between that historical injustice and ongoing disparities in the present.

And if they do that, they may seek to challenge the existing political and social order — as many millions did last summer after the murder of George Floyd.

Ultimately, the right wants students to be uncritical thinkers who accept the racial inequities they can see in contemporary America as naturally occurring or even the fault of Black people themselves.

It might sound like a hyperbolic claim. But it’s not hard to prove.

Conservatives fear the truth because it might inspire more activism

Although conservatives insist they merely want to stress the progress made since the nation’s founding — and they fear CRT and other anti-racist approaches don’t do enough of that — the right doesn’t actually want to discuss racism historically, even if only to point out how far we’ve come since the days of enslavement or segregation.

How do we know they have no interest in honestly presenting that history — even in its “look at all the progress we’ve made” version?

Simple.

First, we can watch what they’re doing and the material they’re attacking in their current crusade.

Across the country, groups like Moms for Liberty have been seeking to ban the teaching of children’s books about MLK, Rosa Parks, or Ruby Bridges, who was the first Black student at a previously all-white elementary school in New Orleans.

These books don’t teach that whites are “inherently oppressive” or evil — the claim made by some in their attack on Critical Race Theory. Instead, they simply tell the truth of the fight for civil rights and against segregation.

There is nothing in the books that is historically inaccurate, and indeed even the critics have pointed to nothing factually wrong in them.

But they wish to ban them anyway because the material might make white children “feel bad,” or make kids dislike police (because cops were often the ones brutalizing civil rights protesters), and because the stories “don’t offer white people redemption.”

There is nothing in the books that is historically inaccurate, and indeed even the critics have pointed to nothing factually wrong in them.

But they wish to ban them anyway because the material might make white children “feel bad,” or make kids dislike police (because cops were often the ones brutalizing civil rights protesters), and because the stories “don’t offer white people redemption.”

In other words, these are attacks on the truth, on actual history, by people who would prefer we lie to children, to pretty-up the past, to ignore the fact that most white people either supported segregation and institutional white supremacy or stood by and acquiesced to it, for generations.

For final confirmation that this is what the right seeks — the utter whitewashing of history — one need only listen to what one Republican activist and “concerned parent” in Virginia recently said, quite openly, to an interviewer for a segment on Showtime.

So there you have it — the whole gamut of right-wing racism denial and rationalization:

  1. Racism is only a problem because we talk about it.
  2. Teaching about what Andrew Jackson actually did to Indigenous people amounts to “putting down” whites “for the color of their skin.”
  3. Rather than discussing that genocide, Indigenous folks need to “forgive” and move on.
  4. Teaching accurate history about oppression leads to “giving people of color an advantage” over white people because it keeps us “feeling sorry for them.”
  5. When Black males are pulled over by police and treated differently, it’s not because of racism but because of their behavior and how they interact with cops.
  6. It should be up to parents whether or not to teach their children about racism, either in history or today.

It is nearly impossible to add much to this, other than to say what it obviously suggests: if it were up to the right, American history would be stripped of the history part.

All we would be left with would be the fictional narratives of George Washington and the cherry tree (which was a fake story, by the way) and other meaningless tales of uncomplicated greatness.

In their version, the founders were extraordinary men whose ownership of human beings is irrelevant to understanding who they were.

In their version, “mistakes were made” along the way, but by and large, America has been a place of freedom and liberty except for — as one Moms for Liberty activist puts it — “these small slivers” of injustice.

And to the extent this anti-historical narrative is blended with white fear about “preferential treatment” for Black people and rationalizations for current inequities — in the case of policing, as noted in the above segment — we can see the real fear here.

It’s not that kids might feel bad about being white. After all, as I’ve explained before, we could always teach students the history of white anti-racist allyship and give them strong white anti-racist role models so as to short-circuit guilt. But conservatives never want to do that.

Because it isn’t guilt that concerns them.

What they fear is that students taught the truth might put two and two together and realize that there is a connection between the history some would rather us not teach and the reality today, which they would rather us not confront.

These parents fear that young people, once apprised of the truth, might decide that America should right the wrongs of our history.

And that would challenge the very system upon which those white and conservative parents have come to depend and have long accepted.

They know children have an innate sense of justice — that is what scares them.

We know how the right would prefer history be taught — we did it that way for generations

If you want a sense of how conservatives would prefer history to be taught, especially regarding matters of racial injustice, you need only look at how it was taught for generations.

Only in the last 25 years or so have schools in most parts of the country begun to introduce multiple perspectives and voices to the history and literature curriculum, and even then in a spotty and inconsistent way.

Too often, literature classes throw a few Black or brown authors in the mix or focus on Black historical figures for February before pivoting back to the standard material with which the teachers themselves were typically raised.

It’s not necessarily because those teachers or schools were overtly or deliberately racist that voices of color were missing, but simply that “you can’t teach what you don’t know.”

I cannot recall being taught even one piece of literature by a Black author in school. Not one.

We did read Black Like Me, but that doesn’t count because the author was a white guy who only darkened his skin as an experiment to discover what segregation felt like to Black people — which apparently was easier than just listening to Black people or reading their books.

I cannot remember a single conversation in school about race or racism, historically or in the present.

And this was in Nashville — one of the most central locations of the civil rights struggle.

We took field trips to all kinds of places in town: to the state capitol, the Parthenon (yes, we have one, don’t ask), even some stupid tea house downtown for reasons I still can’t understand.

This was where warriors for justice like John Lewis and Diane Nash and Bernard Lafayette confronted the city’s white power structure, as others did in cities across the South that year.

And yet, we never went there, even to discuss what had happened on that spot.

We learned nothing about the Nashville freedom movement.

We had no speakers come in to talk about that movement.

Nothing. At all.

We went to the Hermitage — the home of Andrew Jackson — where we uncritically imbibed the history of one of the nation’s most depraved and racist Indian killers and enslavers. But we could not spend even a day learning about real heroism.

Why not?

There is only one reason: because to discuss their struggle would have confronted us with the reality of what this nation was for most of its history — a formal, official, and legally accepted system of white supremacy.

Even more, it might have led us to ask: “Where were our parents and grandparents when all this was happening?”

And because we know the answer to that for most white students, it was thought best to leave it alone.

To the parents storming school board meetings, screaming about CRT, and demanding the removal of books from school libraries, it still is.

They would have their children remain ignorant. They would lie to them. All because to tell the truth might encourage them to do something to make the country more fair and equitable.

And conservatives quite like things the way they are.

They always have.

If It Feels Like American Fascism is Resurging, That’s Because It Is

It was a disastrous night for the Dems. One which, sadly, anyone sane could and should have seen coming for months now.

American fascism hasn’t gone anywhere — it’s just gone local instead of national.

How exactly do you think minority Virginians are going to feel waking tomorrow knowing that a whole lot of their neighbours voted for Youngkin — who won with racist dog whistles? Who seems to want to ban an award winning book about slavery from school curricula, because it might make little Johnny feel bad? They’re going to have a complicated mixture of feelings. Disgust, anger, despair, fear.

That’s exactly what the Trumpists want. They want everyone else to feel afraid of them, intimidated by them, scared of them. Hence the screaming and death threats at school board meetings. Hence, Jan 6th.

Americans are adept at pretending none of this is happening, but this is the politics of social collapse. It goes like this. I vote for a candidate who’s a demagogue. Who blames you — gay, Jew, Mexican, Black, Critical Race Theory — for my woes, me, the pure blooded “real” American. I pretend that’s perfectly legitimate, that it’s not happening for reasons of supremacy. But of course it is.

American fascism didn’t go anywhere, and right about now, Glenn Youngkin is its rising star. It has mass social approval, and Virginians are going to be paying the price for generations. Minorities now know how much their white neighbours openly despise them, and their white neighbours now know, too, they can attempt to have a Texas of their own, a mini Handmaids Tale dystopia of repression and hate, even if Jan 6th failed to turn America into a supremacist state at the national level.

Big Lies work, because there a whole lot of really, really terrible people in America who are eager to believe in Big Lies. Oh no, many of you are going to be really “offended.” But is this really news to anyone? Hello, didn’t we just live through the Trump years?

Pundits are going to make hay of a simple fact over the next few days, which is that Youngkin didn’t explicitly appeal to Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter, Donald Trump went out of his way to embrace Youngkin. Why is that?

Because Youngkin is a textbook demagogue.

How did he win the election? By demonising “critical race theory” in schools. Except “critical race theory” isn’t taught in Virginia’s schools. Youngkin won, in other words, by mobilising old, old fears in America. They’re coming for our kids! Oh no, our kids might learn to regard others as human beings! We’d better double down on teaching our kids that no, they’re supreme, by virtue of blood and faith.

Youngkin found a scapegoat, and whipped it until the entire state was transfixed. He egged on raging fights at school boards, drove parents into frenzies of rage, with the Big Lie that schools were becoming bastions of “wokeness,” where kids were taught that white people were inferior, and every white kid was born a terrible oppressor, that minorities are using the idea of “white privilege” to persecute white people, and so on, all the rest of it, the right-wing hysteria which drives white Americans crazy with rage.

None of this was remotely true. Nobody was teaching kids that white people were evil or bad or anything. They were just asking kids to read books about slavery. Prize-winning ones, in fact, like Toni Morrison’s Beloved. White privilege isn’t particularly a term I like, but you don’t have to look very hard to see it in action — how many CEOs or Presidents or Hollywood stars or whatever have ever been not white?

So let’s be honest about what’s really going on here. Virginia swung to Youngkin, hard, because he offered it a slightly politer form of Trumpism.

One that wore the classic Virginia uniform of khakis and dorky shirts instead of an oversized Fifth Avenue power suit. But it was still Trumpism. White Americans still respond angrily to the erosions of their supremacy over the rest. They see social equality as their own dispossession, a loss of their genetic entitlement to resources and power.

Youngkin fed exactly those flames — because, of course, he feels the same way. But all that is exactly just what Trumpism is.

It was the secret hate vote all over again. Youngkin won the suburbs. All those cosmopolitan parents in Virginia, even in all those rich suburbs? LOL — they turned out to be backwards Trumpists, secret regressives, who could care less about having a decent society. Why? Well, basically they did not want their kids to have to grow to be decent people. They preferred little Tucker and Annie to grow up not ever having to know much about slavery or hatred or how they shaped America. Little Tucker and Annie cry! They have feelings! Empathy! Uh oh, time to turn into them little bigots. Hardly a surprise, considering Virginia was a slave state — and it was also a place where “interracial marriage” was illegal until 1973. Living memory. That’s the legacy Youngkin appealed to — and won.

America’s full of people who want to believe in Big Lies, because those Big Lies give them a convenient, easy, socially validated excuse to keep on having the same old hateful, supremacist attitudes — and even transfer them to their kids. Who doesn’t want their kids to be just like them, after all? Hence: the schools are being racist…to my kids, by…teaching them about slavery! Wait…what?

Youngkin won by telling Big Lies. By scapegoating a convenient, imaginary villain for the woes of the pure and true. In this case, the villain was “critical race theory,” or imaginary fears of your kids and wives being subject to “reverse racism,” being at the mercy of minorities, who might do who knows what to them. Just think about how ridiculous that is for a moment. Can any minority in America even call the cops on a white person without risking their own lives? Give me a break.

All that was a convenient scapegoat for a deeper truth: Virginia’s a state which is growing more and more diverse, and white Americans live in fear of that, of cultural change, of social development, of having live to alongside other kinds of people as equals. Or at least enough of them to do to believe Youngkin’s Big Lies and put him over the top.

At the same time, though, it’s true that the Dems gave Youngkin an opening. Biden won Virginia’s suburbs by 8 points — but this time, Youngkin won them by six. That’s a 14-point swing. How did that happen?

The Dems’ approach isn’t working, because nobody knows what Bidenism is.

Americans appear to be wearying of the Dems, fast. What do they stand for? What do they want? What exactly are they offering? Nobody much knows — not even the Dems.

That is happening for a simple enough reason.

Joe Biden’s approach — negotiate with both sides of the party, as if they hold equivalent power and have equally appealing and reasonable agendas — isn’t working. It’s leading to the Dems getting nothing done. As in quite literally nothing. The Dems spending bill has been held up all summer long, and it’s still not passed. Terry McAuliffe pleaded with the Dems to get something, anything done, so that he could have something concrete to appeal to voters with. His pleas fell on deaf ears — and the result was an historic defeat. Biden’s nice guy approach to politics isn’t working. It’s leading to disaster, and it’ll keep on leading to disaster.

The Dems main position, at this juncture, is still: “hey, at least we’re not Trump.” But that’s what Glenn Youngkin said, too. It’s not enough to not be Trump anymore. Now is time for a positive politics, not just a negative one, a politics of presence, not just absence.

And yet even at this stage, nobody can say what Bidenism is. Except, maybe, to say that it’s a philosophy of compromise taken to outlandish extremes. Without some kind of defining governing philosophy, the Dems are going to keep on losing, more and more badly.

All this doesn’t matter, on a level, because America’s destined to become a fascist state — sociohistory tells us so. What kind of governing philosophy should the Dems have? Well, it’s pretty obvious. America just had a fascist collapse during the Trump years, and we know what it takes to rescue societies after such episodes. Dramatic, historic reconstructions — based on generational levels of investment. How did Europe rebuild after Nazism? The Marshall Plan. How did America stave off its own collapse during the 1930s? The New Deal.

The 20th century taught us exactly how to deal with fascism. Economically, there needs to be a wave of investment in a society’s failed systems.Socially, the middle class needs to be lifted up. Legally, there needs to be process of special justice for crimes against humanity. And culturally, there needs to be a lasting recognition that hatred is wrong, punishable, taboo, so that norms and values change.

Democrats haven’t done any of it. Worse, they don’t plan to do any of it. Worst of all, they don’t understand why they should.

That is why Bidenism is what it is: nothing, nonexistent, something nobody can define, because it has no substance at all. The Democrats understand neither the peril of the moment, nor the causality at work in it. They literally are clueless about the sociohistoric forces they’re dealing with.

I don’t blame them. Nobody much in America seems to understand sociohistory, because it’s a European approach to thought, understanding, knowledge. Americans, instead, are trapped in the dreck of CNN and punditry and Ezra Klein and the New York Times. They don’t understand much of anything, even the good ones. Especially not the Democrats.

All that means that the future is foretold. America’s fascist collapse isn’t going to stop.

Today’s Youngkin victory becomes tomorrow’s Trump victory. And this time, the fascists take the gloves off. Maybe they deputise people for “aiding and abetting” gay marriage. Maybe they put kids in concentration camps — who are American citizens. Maybe they check your papers every weekend.

I used to say: this is America’s last chance. Now, sadly, I tend to think. Yes, it was.